Farm Update

It was a long, hot weekend at Juniper Moon Farm, with lots of ups and downs.

On the up side, Maggie and I were charmed and delighted by our farm stay guests, Gail and her six-year-old daughter Cici. They came down from New York on Thursday and were awfully good sports, not once complaining about weather, even when the heat index made it feel like it was 108 degrees.

We also had an overnight visit from my mama and her boyfriend Ted. (Somehow I managed not to get a picture of the two of them, which breaks my heart because they are adorable.) They drove up all the way from Texas to attend my mom’s high school reunion in Blacksburg, VA. I should say they came to Virginia for the reunion. The reason they drove was to deliver this:

This monstrosity is actually a beautiful, antique Mexican loom that my sister found about a year ago. Carrie bought it for me and it’s been sitting in my mama’s living room ever since.

Clearly, the loom is going to need a lot of work to before it’s functional, but I kind of love it.

The details are lovely.

I really love the fact that there is still fabric made by the last weaver who used the loom.

Believe it or not, there’s a loom-repair person in my neighborhood. Hopefully he or she will be willing to take on a big project.

While all of our house  guests were preparing to leave the farm Saturday morning, Maggie noticed that Nan, one of our Cormo ewes, seemed lethargic. She was running a temp of 104, which is still with in the “normal” range but on the high side, and show no interest in food. We gave her electrolytes and an energy concoction and got her and her lamb, Norris, into the barn to cool off. She seemed to improve at first with regular attention, but there’s been no change in the last 24 hours and she’s gone off feed, which is never a good sign.

We are treating Nan with antibiotics, pain reliever, electrolytes and energy booster, and doing our best to keep her cool. Maggie just reported that, after having her belly cooled off with water, Nan took a bite of grain. It’s encouraging and we’ll keep it up.

Nan is a lovely ewe and I am very concerned about her. It stinks, because we were feeling confident coming off the success of getting Sicily back up to health (we turned her and Fairfax back out with the flock a few days ago.)

I couldn’t really leave the farm for the rest of the weekend because I needed to monitor Nan, but sitting around worrying was making me a nervous wreck. I needed a project to occupy my mind between barn checks, so I got out my serger and spent the rest of the weekend sewing.

First I made about a dozen produce bags. We joined our local vegetable CSA this summer and Maggie did some research to find out the best way to store all the beautiful lettuces and such that we’ve been getting in our weekly allotment. Turns out that almost everything store best wrapped loosely in tea towels and stored in the crisper drawer of the fridge. I decided it would be simpler and neater to make bags out of inexpensive tea towels from Ikea.

On the first bag, I cut the folded edges off the tea towel before stitching it up, but it was unnecessary and actually made a flimsier bag when finished.

For the rest, I folded the towels in half and stitched up the sides, leaving the tops open.

To make smaller bags, I cut the tea towels in half and followed the same procedure.

I was really pleased with the results. They are terribly French looking, oui? I love this kind of sewing. It’s practical and completely un-fiddley. Plus, the results are instant.

I don’t know about you, but once I have my sewing machine out, I will keep it out for ages. My produce bags were so simple and lovely that I was inspired to dig into my fabric stash and make cloth napkins.

I might have gone a bit overboard- I made about 50- but we don’t use paper napkins or paper towels at all, so we go through a good many cloth napkins a week.

I love fabric and cloth napkins are a great way to use your favorite prints everyday.

I’m pretty sure these are my favorites.

I was so inspired by my successful sewing that it motivated me to re-organize my fabric stash. And seeing all the beautiful fabric I have at my disposal has inspired me to more sewing. I’m looking through my quilting books today for a new project to start.

I also made strawberry jam this weekend, but I’ll save that story for my next post.Hope you had a productive weekend.  I’ll keep you updated on Nan’s progress throughout the day.


  1. Jane from Maryland

    June 28, 2010 at 9:32 am

    I know just how Nan feels, and where I am is 20 degrees cooler and I am wearing cotton, not wool. I’m sure we’ve had record heat in the east this June, and who know what July and August will bring. I’m thinking of spending the day in the basement where it’s cool with a lawn chair and a reading light. Nan would be welcome to join me!

  2. Why did reading your blog today make me feel REALLY lazy??!!
    Best wishes to Nan, and love those napkins.

  3. You may have to add your sewing accomplishments to your store for us non-sewing types to purchase. Hint, hint.
    Hope Nan comes around quickly and is feeling better soon.
    Love the loom and I’m not a weaver…yet.

  4. Jen aka Jellenp

    June 28, 2010 at 9:45 am

    Susie, that loom is AMAZING! I hope you will keep us posted on its refurbishment. I can’t wait to see it in person. Props to Carrie for such an awesome purchase (and your Mom for its room and board and subsequent safe passage).

    Can’t imagine how hard this heat is on everyone. Nan will be in my thoughts.

  5. we have yet to see the heat this summer, but for the time being the rain has slowed down, finally! Sorry about the wooly illnesses!
    Had to smile as last week mom and i were going through my fabric stash to make new napkins, and we had recently finished making produce bags last month. Am going to pick up some of the ikea tea towels next trip though, we have been using the cloth baby diapers, they are quite thin.

  6. ah, yes, once again you inspire me.. I bought a ton of tea towels from an estate sale a few years ago, and now I know what I’ll do with some of them. Thanks! Can’t wait to retire and begin my stash organization and weaving projects!

  7. Beautiful Loom. Enjoy! But our thoughts are with Nan.

  8. Sorry to hear about Nan and Amelia! Hope they both get better soon. This heat is so brutal!

  9. Ooh, my mom just brought me her old sewing machine. I may have to make some produce bags. The kids love going to Ikea, so we may have to make a trip this week. Hugs and cool breezes to the sheep. Could you set up a sprinkler for them?

  10. We haven’t used paper towels or napkins for over 20 years, and I LOVE cloth napkins!

    I’m keeping the sheep in my prayers and hope that the cooler weather we are having will reach you guys soon.

    I love that you, as a CSA, joined a CSA. Now, that’s passing it forward!

  11. We just had strong thunderstorms in DC area that dropped the temperature 20 degrees. Murphy’s Law being what it is, the same will likely happen to you down there too (now that you have spent the $500+ on heat issues). Sigh. But better for the sheep in any event!

  12. Love! Love love love! If I had FIFTY cloth napkins I wouldn’t feel so silly using them! Right now we just have a few and I feel like they’re “special occasion” napkins, even though we never have special occasions. BUT IF I HAD FIFTY I COULD USE THEM EVERY DAY!!! And ONLY use the paper towels for Beasley’s pee! More laundry, though. But they can kinda be shoved in wherever, right? YEAH!

  13. My Mom always wraps her produce in paper towels before storing them in her refrigerator and the stuff lasts forever. Since my last visit to the farm we’ve stopped using paper napkins and towels too. I bought tons of towels from IKEA and am now inspired to make produce bags and more napkins.

  14. first, love, health and all my prayers to ms. nan for a through recovery…

    secondly, the shepherd print is super! as are the oh so french veggie bags! (i just had a conversation about them with a friend on sat! too )

    my sewing machine too stays out for ages
    i must make some of these

    i had created something smaller i called a “trash-e bag”
    for those little odds and ends you want to throw away in the car…
    mine always wind up on the floor
    …i have a bunch and a lot of materials
    (i even hand sewed the small ties for them)

    your materials are so pretty and vibrant
    it reminds me of my bookshelves
    which are my apt ‘art’ *as well as the bicycle in the middle of my living room*

    your loom is spectacular
    i love the wood detail and the remnant of the prior artisan
    use it well
    what a grand gift!!!

    hugs , love , and god speed to nan
    from my heart,

  15. adding in love and prayers for ms. amelia too xoxoxoxoxo…

  16. Susan,
    We had a great visit, the loom looks better in your house then mine, it is happy and at home. Thank you for everything, we really enjoy being with you, Maggie, Gail and esp Cic, she is so charming.i Ted loved the sheep, goats and esp the dogs.
    I had so much fun at the reunion (this was my first) and recommend that everyone go to theirs. It is a good reminder of the people who helped you get where you are. Even a chance to thank some of them for their caring and support when you needed them.

  17. We will think cool thoughts and better health for your Nan. I wondered if you could tell me what the energy boost/concoction is you are giving her. We lost our first ewe this past Friday and I would have liked to provide her with some more support & wondered what you give.

    Thanks, Marianne

    • Susan

      June 28, 2010 at 7:39 pm

      Marianne, I am so sorry. Losing a ewe never gets easier, but it’s particularly awful the first time. When I have an animal that’s listless, I alternate between a store bought energy supplement like Power Punch or Nutridrench, and mine own concoction of strongly brewed coffee and molasses. I usually use instant coffee because we don’t drink it, but if you have some leftover it from the morning it works fine. Add about 1/3 again as much molasses and let the coffee cool to room temp. I drench with about 50 mils of the mixture every four-six hours. The idea is that the caffeine gives the animal enough energy to get up and eat something, which is half the battle. I give this same mixture hot to animals in the winter. Linda, our oldest nanny goat, gets coffee nearly every morning.
      I also drench with electrolytes whenever an animal is low. In this heat, we’re adding electrolytes and apple cider vinegar to the water tanks daily, and supplementing with a kelp meal for minerals.

  18. The Loom is art in it’s current state, I love it!! Something about it, I could live with it (if I had the room) as is, if it would be some while till I could rehab it.

    Thanks for the inspiration for using up fabric that you still love but may not be in the quilt-making mood.

    How are the girls, I so worry about them (and the boys, too :-)). Am learning so much from your blog. As I doubt I will be living anywhere cool, looks like I will be an angora goat kinda retiree, since they like it hot, some day…

  19. Kristin McCurry

    June 28, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    Since we all get “farm fresh yarn”, I’m lobbying that our shares come in produce bags. . .

  20. Thank you so much for the tips regarding the coffee and molasses. I would never have thought of that. We don’t drink coffee, but it sounds like I sheep just might in the future.

    I love the fabric with the red sheep on it. I was just hunting for sheep fabric on the internet today to make an apron. (And I don’t sew.)

    All the best, Marianne

  21. I am worn out from just reading about all you accomplish in a day…. good luck with your ewe.

  22. I hope Nan is feeling better soon, and that the heatwave breaks.

    I love your loom! It’s beautiful, and I can’t wait to see what you make with it. I took weaving for two semesters in college (and loved it!), but don’t own my own loom yet. For now, knitting and crochet are keeping me busy, but someday, I really want my own loom.

  23. What a great idea! We started getting a food box this summer and have been struggling with the quickly wilting lettuce, spinach and parsley we’ve been receiving. I used paper towel for a while, but it is so wasteful, even if it does go in our green bin here in Toronto (which is turned into compost by the city), and I have an overabundance of tea towels that are just calling to be used this way… Love the blog, all your ideas, keep it coming!

  24. Don’t worry about having too many, I’ll be over to steal some napkins later…

  25. How do you do the corners? I need to make a batch of napkins, too…I always debate with myself about how to manage the corners on the serger. I usually end up stitching to the edge, lifting the foot, delicately freeing the threads from the pin thinggees, then turning, pull up the threads, to eliminate slack, and starting on the next side, crossing my fingers that I don’t get any loops.

    Also, how big do you like them?

  26. You should consider selling them on Etsy…..??

  27. I felt so inspired by this post, I stopped at Ikea this evening while trying to kill some time and bought some tea towels. Hopefully I will get a chance to sew a few produce bags up before all the stuff I got at Central Market last night shrivels up!

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